Just imagine, no British retail brand in India: Boris Johnson
Putting on a mock serious tone that drew laughter at hustings in Bedfordshire on Saturday, Johnson, who is standing against foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, noted that India does not allow foreign investment in multi-brand retail.Updated: Jul 15, 2019 11:07 IST
Pushing for more trade with India, Boris Johnson, the frontrunner in the ongoing election for the next Conservative leader – and prime minister – wonders how the large middle class in India could do without shopping in British retail outlets there.
Putting on a mock serious tone that drew laughter at hustings in Bedfordshire on Saturday, Johnson, who is standing against foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, noted that India does not allow foreign investment in multi-brand retail. He wants India to open up further.
Johnson said: “Trade with China has gone up by about 45 per cent in the last 10 years. In India, volumes have remained almost static. We need to do far more. India is a massive natural market for the UK. I would also like to see India opening up to some of our great brands”.
“In India, Sainsbury’s can’t set up. They have no Waitrose. Just imagine that”, he remarked with a half-smile, evoking guffaws in the audience that comprised mostly members of the Conservative who have been voting for the two candidates.
Besides opening multi-brand retail for foreign investment, Johnson has been keen that India reduce 150 per cent tariff on Scotch whisky, given the growing demand in the country.
Official figures show the UK’s trade (exports, imports) with China was worth 67.5 billion pounds in 2017, while the figure for India was 17.8 billion pounds. India is among key markets the post-Brexit Britain is keen to forge a free trade agreement with.
Both Johnson, 55, and Hunt, 52, have been talking up relations with India, promising according it the ‘highest priority’ (Hunt) and a ‘truly special relationship’ (Johnson) in messages to Conservative party members of India origin, seeking their support in the election.
The election result is scheduled to be announced on July 23. The new party leader will take over as the next prime minister from Theresa May the next day after meeting Queen Elizabeth in Buckingham Palace.
First Published: Jul 15, 2019 11:07 IST